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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  September 25, 2009 5:00pm-6:00pm EDT

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phone with us from the g-20 summit in pittsburgh. ed schultz is the host of "the ed show" and pat buchanan is also with us. and jamie rabin is a former state department spokesman. he'll be with us a bit later. let's start with chuck todd. what is the mood within the white house over the latest development with regard to iran? they have iraq to worry about. they have afghanistan choices have been made coming up very shortly. and now this revelation. >> well, it is a little frenetic. there is no doubt this is the issue that has dominated the week and we in the press corps didn't feigned out about it until 4:00 this morning when this thing went public in the new york times. so we're now learning what the weak was really like for this white house. behind the scenes with the russians, behind the scenes with the chinese. it was all about letting them know what was going on with iran in this nuclear facility.
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they briefed the russians, they briefed the chinese, all in an attempt to get everybody on the same page because they knew this thing, the iranians had found out that we had known their secret. and so became a race to sort of get each side, to get this side of the story out, to get their case together in front of the international community because we knew what was coming next week on october 1st, this meeting of the p-5, which in this case is the five permanent members, china, russia, great britain, france and the u.s., plus germany to come on the same page and sit down with iran. now, what has happened today, and what makes white house feel pretty good about what is going on, one, they feel like they have good intelligence. they feel like they've made a strong case for the russians. now they're sitting here waiting on the chinese. if they can get everybody on the same page, they had they can
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have some leverage over the iranians on the sanctions front. now, though, the fact we're learning all this and this is the third time the administration, the third time the iranians have been caught lying about their nuclear ambitions. the third time they've been caught cheating. how much more diplomacy can the president pursue before he has to just say, that's it. the question is, what is the that's it, if it is not just sanctions? >> pat buchanan, the images of street unrest in tehran are still fresh in a lot of people's minds from the election health earlier this summer. what do you figure this says if anything about political unrest within the iranian administration? ahmadinejad, the mullahs, who is running iran? >> that's the basic question here. what the united states is saying to the iranian people is, your government, ahmadinejad, and the
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ayatollah are lying to you and they are lying to the world when they say that all their nuclear facilities are for peaceful purposes. up to now, mike, all the revelations we know about, even though some of them are secret, are consistent with the peaceful program. if the united states is correct that they are upgrading the iran yum, enriching it, that can only be for one thing. an explosive device. the americans are saying you've lied to your people about this and you've lied to the world about this. you do have facilities there that are exclusively or only can be for nuclear weapons. i think ahmadinejad and the ayatollah are going to have to come clean with the iaea, with the world and their own people on this. and prove if they can that this is not a weapons facility. >> ed schultz, you talked to the country a couple of times a day every day. what do you think goes through people's minds out there in the
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middle of the country in iowa and the great northwest, up in seattle, way up in portland, maine, when they their phrase "under sanctions." >> they would rather have that. the revealing of this seek facility today that has been denied in the past, this is a great political opportunity for this president to show that this is the man that he talked about on the campaign trail, that he can bring people together, he can lead, that he can bring coalitions together. i think it is very encouraging for the white house to hear what medvedev is saying from russia and about how they have new relations with the united states. it was very cold at the end have to bush administration. i thought president obama did a good job. today his demeanor, his academic approach to this, his willingness to work with other leaders. this is a very crucial test for the president. during the campaign, a lot of people were talking about, he
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didn't have the experience. he didn't have the international experience. we're seeing it rate now. this is the president of the united states on the international stage, having to perform to bring in great britain, to talk about a line in the sand, to bring in sarkozy and the germans, and now reaction from the russians. they play a big key in all of this because of the business dealings they've had over the years with the iranians, and now, of course, the chinese are telling the iranians they need to back off. this situation is putting barack obama, and i think a great position to show that the united states wants to go to the moral high ground and reestablish itself as a world leader. >> chuck todd, can you give us any internal background in the white house about the president's dealing with russia and china to get them on the same page with regard to iran? >> i'll be very quick here because it does look like we're a few minutes away. here's the best i can tell.
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this was news to the russians, and it really ticked off the russians. they did not know the iranians were doing this. this is based on sources i've talked to, sort of read aing body language. they really believe this was news to the russians. the arraign that's important, they were out there defending the iranians publicly and they feel burned. that's why that is important. that's why the white house continued here at the g-20, feels pretty good about the statement. that's why they think they got a statement out of the russians than they would have expected a week ago. and that's because the russians feel like they were basically sold a bill of goods by the iranians. the chinese, they play coy but they won't be there by themselves. if the russians are with us, the russians believe the chinese will go along. i'm going to get in my seat here, guys. when you see recommendiggie nea
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podium -- >> we don't want to you what's your seat. >> i might have to interrupt you for the president of the united states. i'm sure you'll understand. but weapons grade plutonium. if it can be proved they are developing weapons grade plutonium in this new nuclear facility we're talking about, wouldn't that prove the. the israelis were right? and wouldn't that give israel a stronger leg up on saying, we'll to have take care of this ourselves at some point? >> look, if it is, as the americans are saying, they're enriching up to 90%. that's weapons grade uranium. it is the time that was used in one of the atomic bombs that we dropped over either hear sheema or nagasaki, there is only one use that i know of for uranium enriched to 90%. chuck makes a very important point. it is not only ahmadinejad and the ayatollah were lying to their country and lying to the west. if this is true, they lied to the russians who have been out
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there fronting for them by telling they will, look, it is all for peaceful purposes. so they've sand bagged every friend they've got that has been out there. and you are correct. if this is true, the israelis who have been saying, look, the iranians are much further along. they're much more determined to build weapons. then you are saying, when they said they cancel their plans in 2003, you have a hey confidence. the israelis will have been proven correct forecast this is true. this is a central point. the iranians will have to explain that this is not weapons grade uranium coming out of this plant. this is simply a back-up in case the israelis and the americans blow it up which would be illegal but understandable. they won't put all the ce centrifuges in there. >> we have less than two minutes until the president appears at the podium here. we're watching that.
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listening to chuck and listening to pat, i want to go back to what you were saying earlier. this could be a very positive development for this very young obama administration. >> i don't think there is any doubt about it. i've talked to military people over the last five years on the radio, retired admirals that have told me that the russians play a big key in dealing with the iranians. back in 2005, i brought up earlier today, what is the israeli reaction going to be to there? former president dick cheney was quoted in a new york times story as saying in january 2005, you never know. the israelis may take action on the iranians before anybody else. because they've known that this stuff was going on. so this is, i think, the big picture point here. a really opportunity for the president and for the united states to show some leadership. not overreact. take the academic approach.
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be very strong. keep this coalition together. operate with the facts. take the moral high ground and show that we have a great direct. this is really an opportunity for the obama administration to show that there is a new sheriff in town running the united states of america. there is always the political reaction to everything. but this is a chance for the united states and the russians to move forward with a new positive relationship. >> we're looking to at a picture on the scene rate now, as you speak of rahm emanuel, chief of staff, and david axelrod, chief adviser to the president of the united states. here he is now coming on the stage in pittsburgh, pennsylvania. president barack obama. >> good afternoon. first of all, thank mayor luke ravenstahl, county executive dan onorato and the people of
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pittsburgh for being just extraordinary hosts. last night, during the dinner that i had with world leaders, so many of them commented on the fact that some time in the past, they had been to pittsburgh. in some cases, it was 20 or 25 or 30 years ago. and coming back, they were so impressed with the revitalization of the city. a number of them remarked on the fact that it pointed to lessons that they could take away in revitalizing manufacturing towns in their home countries. the people here have been extraordinary. so i want to thank all of you for the great hospitality. i will tell you, i'm a little resentful because i did not get to pamela' diner for pancakes. although the pramt from japan
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did get pancakes and i don't know how he worked that but he was raving about them. six months ago i said the london summit marked a turning point in the g-20's efforts to prevent economic catastrophe. hear in pittsburgh, we've taken several significant steps to secure our recovery. in transition to strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth. we've brought the global economy back from the brink. we laid the groundwork today for long term prosperity as well. it is worth recalling stagnant trade, a financial system that was nearly frozen. some were warning the second grade depression. because of the bold and coordinated action we tack, million of job have been saved
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or created. the decline has been stopped. financial markets have come back to life and we've stopped the crisis from spreading further to the developing world. still, we know there is much further to go. too many americans are still out of work and struggling to pay bills. attempt families are uncertain about what the future will bring. because our global economy is now fundamentally connected, we need to act together to make sure our recovery creates new jobs and industries, while preventing the kinds of imbalances. pittsburgh was a perfect convenient you a for this work. this city has shown its share of hard times . pittsburgh picked itself up and dusted itself off and is making the transition to job creating industries from the future, from by a over technology to clean energy. it serves as a model for turning
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the page to a 21st century economy and a reminder that the key to our future prosperity lies not just in new york or los angeles or washington burk in places like pittsburgh. today we took bold and concerted efforts and to forge a new framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth. first, we agreed to sustain our recovery plans until growth is restored. and a new framework for prosperity is in place. our coordinated stimulus plan played an indispensable role in averting catastrophe. now we must make sure that when growth returns, jobs do, too. that's why we will continue our stimulus efforts until our people are back to work and fade them out when our recovery is strong. but we can't stop there. going forward, we cannot tolerate the same old boom and bust economy of the past. we can't grow complacent. we can't wait for a crisis to
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cooperate. that's why our new framework will allow each of us to assess the other's policies, to build consensus on reform, and to ensure that global demand supports growth for all. second, we agreed to take concrete steps to move forward with tough new financial regulations, so the crisis like this can never happen again. never again should we let the scheme of a reckless few put the world's financial system in our people's well being at risk. those who abuse the system must be held accountable. those who act irresponsibly must not count on taxpayer dollars. those days are over. that's why we've agreed to a strong set of reforms. we will bring more transparency to the derivatives market, where we will strengthen national capital standards so the banks can withstand losses and pay for their own risks. we will create more powerful tools to hole large global firms accountable, and oriolely procedures to manage failures
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without burdening taxpayers. and we will tie executive pay to long term performance so that sound decisions are awarded, instead of short-term grief. in short, our financial system will be far more different and more secure than the one that failed so dramatically last year. third, we agreed to save up subsidies for fossil fuel so we can transition to a 21st century energy economy. the historic effort that would ultimately phase out nearly $300 billion in global subsidies. this reform will increase our energy security. it will help transform our economy so that we're creating the clean energy jobs of the future. and they will help us combat the threat posed by climate change. as i said earlier this week in new york, all nations have a responsibility to meet this challenge and together, we have taken a substantial step forward in meeting that responsibility.
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finally, we agreed to reform our system of cooperation and governments. we can no longer meet the challenge of the 21st century with 20th century approaches. that's why the g-20 will take the lead in building a new approach to cooperation to make it reflect our time, we will shift more responsibility to emerging economies within the international monetary fund and give them a greater voiceful to build new markets, and help the world's most vulnerable citizens climb out of poverty. we established a new world bank trust fund to support investments and food security, and financing for clean and affordable energy. and to ensure that we canada our commitments, we agreed to continue to take stock of our efforts going forward. we have learned time and again that in the 21st century, the nations of the world share mutual interests. that's why i've called for a new era of engagement that yaelds real results for our people. an era when nations live up to
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their responsibilities and act on behalf of our shared prosperity and security. that's exactly the strong of strong cooperation we've forged in pittsburgh and earlier this new york. indeed, on issue after issue, we see the international community is beginning to move forward together. at the g-20, we've achieved a level of global cooperation we have never seen before while also acting to address the threat posed by climate change. at the united nations security council, we passed a historic resolution to store loose nuclear materials, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to seek the security of a world without them. as we approach negotiations with iran on october 1st, we have never been more united in standing with the united kingdom, france, russia, china and germany in demanding that iran live up to its responsibilities. on all of these challenges, there is much more work to be done. but we leave here today more
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confident and more united in the common effort of advancing security and prosperity for all of our people. i'm very grateful to the other world leaders here today. and with that, let me take a few questions. i'll start with ben from ap. >> thank you, mr. president. the iranian president said today that your statement of this morning was a mistake. and that your mistakes work in iran's favor. what gives you any sense that you can genuinely negotiate with him? and also, when you talk about holding iran accountable, is the military option growing more likely? >> i think it is important to see what happened today, building on what happened in new york. you had an unprecedented show of unity on the part of the world community saying that iran's
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actions raised grave doubts that their nuclear program was for peaceful purpose. not only did the united states, who brought this to light stand before, but you had china and russia as well issue statements, calling for an immediate iaea investigation. that kind of solidarity is not typical. anybody who has following responses to iran would have been doubtful a few months ago that that kind of rained response was possible. so i think iran is on notice, when we meat with them on october 1st, they are going to have to come clean and they are going to have to make a choice. are they willing to go down the path which i think ultimately will lead to greater prosperity
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and security for iran, giving up the acquisition of nuclear weapons, and deciding that they are willing to abide by international rules and standards in their that you are sat of peaceful, nuclear energy, or will they continue down a path that is going to lead to a cannot frontation? and as i said before, what has change is that the international community, i think, has spoken. it is now up to iran to respond. i'm not going to speculate on the course of action that we will take. we're going to give october 1st a chance. but i think you've heard that even countries who a year ago or sick months ago might have been reluctant to even discuss things like sanctions, have said things like this is an important
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enoughish you a to peace and stability in the world, that iran would make a mistake in ignoring the call for them to respond in a forthright and clear manner, and to recognize that the choice they make over the next weeks and months could well determine their ability to rejoin the international community or to find themselves isolated. the last point i'll make specifically with respect to the military, i've always said that we do not rule out any options when it comes to u.s. security interests. but i will also reemphasize that my preferred course of action is to resolve this in a diplomatic fashion. it is up to the iranians to
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respond. patricia from reuters? >> you said a couple months ago that the war in afghanistan is a war of necessity. do you think it is possible to meet u.s. objectives there without extra u.s. troops and consider this. how does the public's lagging support for the war affect your decision making now, and how is your review process been affected by the allegations of election fraud? thank you. >> first of all, let me be clear on our goals. we went into afghanistan not because we were interested in entering that country or positioning ourselves regionally, but because al qaeda killed 3,000 plus americans.
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and vowed to continue trying to kill americans. and so my overriding goal is to dismantle the al qaeda network. to destroy their capacity, to inflict harm, not just on us but people of all faiths and all nationalities all around the world and that is our overriding focus. stability in afghanistan and in pakistan are critical to that mission. and after several years of drift in afghanistan, we now find ourselves in a situation in which you have strong commitments from the coalition, our nato allies, all of them are committed to making this work. but i think there is recognition that after that many years adrift, it is important that we
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examine our strategies to make sure they can actually deliver on preventing al qaeda from establishing safe havens. obviously, the allegations of fraud in the recent election are of concern to us. and we are still awaiting results will we're awaiting the ioc and the ecc issuing their full support. what is most important is that there is a sense of legitimacy in afghanistan among afghan people for their government. if there is not, that makes our task much more difficult. in term. revi of the review process we're going through, we flish '80 review. and even before it was completed, i ordered 21,000 additional troops into afghanistan, because i thought it was important to secure the
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election to make sure that the taliban did not disrupt it. what i also said at the time was that after the election, we are going to reassess our strategy because so much of our success has to be linked to the ability of the afghan people themselves to provide for their own security, their own training. the afghan government's ability to deliver services and opportunity and hope to their people. so we are doing exactly what i said we would do in march. i put in a new commander. general mcchrystal and i asked him to give me an unvarnished assessment of the situation in afghanistan. and he has done that as well. but keep in mind that from the start, my belief was, and this is shared with our isaf allies, that our military strategy is only part of a broader project that has to include a civilian
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component and a diplomatic component. and all those different factors are being weighed and considered at this point. and i will ultimately make this decision based on what will meet that core goal that i set out at the beginning, which is to dismantle, disrupt and destroy the day indicated network. with respect to public opinion, i understand the public's weariness of this war, given that it comes on top of weariness about the war in iraq. every taime we get a report of young man or woman who has fallen in eat of those theaters of war, it is a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices they're making. i know that our partners in
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afghanistan feel that same pain when they see their troops harmed. so this is not easy. and i would expect that the public would ask some very tough questions. that's exactly what i'm doing is asking some very tough questions. and we're not going to arrive at perfect answers. i think anybody who has looked at the situation recognizes that it is difficult and complicated. but may solemn obligation is to make sure that i get the best answers possible, particularly before i make decisions about sending additional troops into the thaeter. john from kdki. john? good to see you, john. >> thank you, mr. president. let me ask you, while we were inside this very safe and secure and beautiful convention center, some 5,000 at least demonstrators were on the
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outside. some caused some property damage. others just shouted their messages. much of which had to do that while you believe the g-20 summit was a success and represents a positive sign, they see it as something devilish and destructive of the world economy. and particularly, the economy of the par. what is your response to those demonstrating and those who oppose the summit? >> well, first, it is important to keep thing in perspective for the people of pittsburgh, if you have looked at any of the other summits that tack place. in london, you have hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. in most of these summits, there has been a much more tumultuous response. and i think the mayor and the county executive and all the people of pittsburgh deserve extraordinary credit for having
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managed what is a very tranquil g-20 summit. i think that many of the protests are just directed generically at capitalism. and they object to the existing global financial system. they object to free markets. one of the great things about the united states is that you can speak your mind and you can protest. that's part of our tradition. but i fundamentally disagree with their view that the free market is the source of all ills. ironically, if they had been paying attention to what was taking place inside the summit itself, what they would have heard was a strong recognition from the most diverse collection of leaders in history, that it
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is important to make sure that the market is working for ordinary people. that government has a role in regulating the market in ways that don't cause the kinds of crises we've been living through. that our emphasis has to be on more balanced growth, and that includes making sure that growth is bottom up. that workers, ordinary people are able to pay their bills, make a decent living, send their children to college, and that the more that we focus on how the least of these are doing, the better off all of us will be. that principle was embodied in the communication that was issued. so i would recommend those who are out there protesting, if
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they're actually interested in knowing what was taking place hear, to read the communique that was issued. >> thank you, mr. president. i would like to follow up on iran. since iran seems to be so blatantly in breach of its international obligations and with some of your main allies growing impatient, why even meet with the iranians on october 1st? and can you also explain to us what happened between the end of 2007 when an intelligence estimate talk about the fact that iran was that you are is aing nuclear weapons, and what credit should be given to such intelligence? >> first with respect to the intelligence that we presented to the iaea, this was the work
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product of three intelligence agencies. not just one. these intelligence agencies checked over this work in a painstaking fashion. precisely because we didn't want any ambiguity about what was going on there. and i think that the response you saw today indicates the degree to which this intelligence is solid. and indicates the degree to which iran was constructing an enrichment facility it had not declared, contrary to under resolutions, and contrary to the rules governing the iaea. in terms of meeting, i have said repeatedly that we'll operate on two tracks. that our preferred method of action is diplomatic.
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but if that does not work, then other consequences may follow. i also said, and this was debated extensively here in the united states, because there were some who suggest, you can't talk to iran, what is the point? by keeping the path of diplomacy open, that would actually strengthen world unity and our collective efforts to then hole iran accountable. i think you're starting to see the product of that strategy unfold during the course of this week. what we saw at the united nations at the security council was a strong affirmation of the principles of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. and as a consequence, the iaea is strengthened and those countries who follow the rules are strengthened when it comes
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to dealing with countries like north korea and iran that don't follow the rules. and that means that when we feigned that diplomacy does not work, we will be in a much stronger position to, for example, apply sanctions. that have bite. now, as i said, that's not the preferred course of action. i would love nothing more than to see iran choose the responsible path. whether they do so or not will ultimately depend on their leaders and they will have the next few weeks to show to the world which path they want to follow. okay. i'm going to take one last question. i have to call on one of these guys.
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they're chip? >> you mentioned sanctions with bite. i know you can't get into details but what kinds of sanctions would have bite with iran? do you really think any kind of sanctions would have an effect on somebody like mahmoud ahmadinejad? secondly, some of your advisers said this announcement was a victory. do you consider it a victory? if so, why didn't you say it earlier since you have known since you were president-elect? >> this isn't a football game. so i'm not interested in victory. i'm interested in resolving the problem. the problem is that iran repeatedly said that it is pursuing nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes, and its actions contradict its words. and as a consequence, the raegin
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is more insecure and vital u.s. interests are threatened. may job is to try to solve that. and my expectation is that we are going to explore with our allies, with the p-5 plus one a wide range of options, in terms of how we approach iran, should iran decline to engage in the ways that are responsible. you just told me, i won't get into details about sanctions and you're right. i will not. but i think if you have the international community making a strong united front, that iran will have to pay attention. in terms of why we didn't come out with this saner, i already mentioned that it is very
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important in these kinds of high stakes situations to make sure that the intelligence is right. and we wanted all three agencies, the french, the brits, and the americans to have thoroughly scrubbed this and to make sure that we were absolutely confident about the situation there. we are. and now it is up to iran to respond. thank you very much, everybody. i hope you enjoy pittsburgh. thank you. >> you've been watching president barack obama at the g-20 on a day when iran reveal a previously secret nuclear facility used for enriching uranium. the president said he intends to solve it diplomatically but he did not ral out any options. according to several reports we've heard prior to this press
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conference, and i think things that the president alluded to during his q and a session with the media, russia was kind of surprised with the revelation of this new nuclear development in iran. if a, do you believe that, and b, if they were suprised, does that make our position visa a very dealing with iran stronger? >> first, i doubt the russians were very surprised when they absorbed the information that has been provided and what the iranians say back. in the end, this will be another enrichment of uranium facility, very similar to one that already existed. the iranians will make the same arguments and in the end, the russians will have to come to the same judgments. in a tactical sense, in a today, tomorrow sense, the russians probably did not expect this to become a punish you've right now. and they may not have had the
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same intelligence we had. when you examine very carefully the white house fact sheet about this facility, they make clear that it doesn't change the intelligence community' assessment that iran has not begun an actual nuclear weapons program. so we're back to the same dilemma that we've been facing for quite some time now. this revelation is important. it has highlighted the dilemma we've been facing for quite some time but it doesn't change that dilemma. the dilemma is that iran is going full board for the ability to enrich uranium to a level that is not weapons grade. but they will have the capability inapparently to increase that. and inherent breakout capability. meanwhile, the u.s. intelligence community doesn't think they have a nuclear weapons program right now. so that difference between
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having an inherent capability, having a peaceful so-called nuclear energy program, and actually building weapons is something where countries like the united states, france and britain are extremely worry and they take a tougher stance. countries like russia and china, as long as they don't believe the iranians have begun enriching uranium to weapons grade. as long as they believe they are not engaged in a nuclear weapons program, their response will be limited. we'll be in a game the president was talking about in the last discussion, some form of discussions. >> you say the same dilemma. you just mentioned sanctions. the u.n. has been rather a toothless tiger when it come to sanctions. we've been talking about sanctions as a country forthru years. >> in the last three years, president bush and now president
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obama have gone to security council and sought some form of economic sanctions. they're quite limited. they affect certain industries, certain individuals. they're not the kind of embargo, say, that we have. i don't think we'll get that kind of embargo. this information doesn't dramatically transform the case the iranians have, or the case the americans have. it is a very effective tactical intelligence that will put the appreciate our russia, put the pressure on china. it won't change the fundamental position. we won't see an economic embargo. some sword of blockade on iran or something like that. the truth is, this is what the last question brought out. most experts, most people involved, have a hard time seeing why this particular regime, now that it has become even more extreme with the recent election in the crackdown, will capitulate in the face of an check sanction of
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some kind. so this will become even starker in the coming months for the president. >> you have lived in the diplomatic world -- >> throw one at me, i think. >> i think the average person listening to you might say to themselves, you just referenced the embargo in cuba. the average person might say, how crazy is this? the only missiles they have in havana are cigars. robustos. and these people in iran, the government of iran mate be capable of assembling a nuclear warhead and we can't provide tougher sanctions on iran than cuba? that's crazy stuff. >> i agree the cuba embargo is something most people will never understand why they are singled out for this extreme economic sanction. i certainly agree with you that that has always been an outlier in term yf the u.s. has taken
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such an extreme stance. the bottom line is that we'll have a limited economic sanctions posed against iran, there perhaps will be some form of restriction on certain oil products. maybe gasoline if we're very lucky but i doubt that. and in the end, this regime, particularly one now run by the more extreme version of the iranian revolution. though who have been left after this terrible crackdown which involved many of the members of the government and the' least and the establishment there breaking from the revolutionary guard that seem to be in large part in control. that's what is left of the iranian government is the least likely to be subject to economic sanctions. all sim saying is that the president and his team have done a great job of highlighting the tactical situation to put some pressure on russia. but now this is a major
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international issue they themselves have highlighted it. have brought it to super cede the entire economic summit in pittsburgh that has taken place. and yet, the result, as you saw in that last question is no closer to achieving the iranians stopping this program. and we're headed for in the coming months, some big questions. do we learn to live with this inherent capability or do we do something much more drastic? >> we're joined now by chuck todd who was in pittsburgh. at the press conference. chuck, jamie rubin, you just heard him talking about the answer to the last question the president gave about sanctions. and jamie seems to feel, correct me if i misinterpret it. that russia and china will be on board for sanctions, they are tiptoeing into the realm of sxangsz polite not end up
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agreeing with tough sanctions, nearly as tough as we would want. what is the feeling in the white house with the administration about how looked into this china and russia happen to be? >> right now they're very bullish on the fact they think russia is on board. the statement that russia put out today was, tougher than they would have thought they would have gotten out of the russians even just a couple of days ago. so they're bullish on this idea the russians privately really do feel a little bit burned by the iranians in that the iranians were concealing this. the sources i've talked to have said it is pretty clear the russians didn't know about this site. and that bothers them. not on the intelligence front, on that relationship. they've been out there defending iran. in many ways, china has been hiding behind russia in this divide between british, taken with britain, france and the u.s. and where china and russia stood on this issue.
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if you've got russia aboard, the hope among those in the white house is that that will bring a reluctant china. they're still acting very reluctantly. and that's where i think jamie could be very right. china might not be ready to go with its toughest sanctions the u.s. would hope for. on the one hand, they talk about north korea. they'll say, we have if chinese on board some of the toughest sanctions anybody has gotten out of the chinese in a long time. that's fine. iran will turn into a domestic political fight in this country. the pressure the president will feel on this front is so much different than north korea. you'll see congressional republicans and a lot of democrats. today, joe lieberman, evan bayh today put out statements. it was a very hawkish statement. a message to the president about getting tough. there could be bipartisan bills that come out of congress with a lot of teeth.
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a lot of sanctions in it that could pop up as a bill for the president to sign before he can make headway, frankly, when it comes to what he's trying to do. you have this line in the sand that the president sort of drew for next week, but then said, well, they have a few weeks, so, you know, look, it depenz on what the iranians do. do they snow up, number one, and do they agree to basic things that these six nations have been asking for them for starting with allowing for some inspections by the international agency. >> speaking of the testing and sites, take a look at the pictures of the alleged yeurani facility in iran. the first is from march 2005. and the second is from january of 2009. we can tell from that, i certainly can't tell anything from that, but jamie, let me ask
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you, chuck was talking about the domestic politics aspect of it here in the united states. joe lieberman, evan bayh, let me ask you, what do you think the situation is in tehran? they've gone through a summer of unrest based upon the elections and street riots. who's in charge in iran? ahmadinejad, who is no longer the craziest guy in town? we saw the guy from libya is even crazier this week. or is it the ayatollahs in iran? who's runs that country? >> well, two points first of all. after this crackdown this summer it's clear that president ahmadinejad has more power than he did in his last term. the collective leadership that existed in iran for many, many years, decades is now split with the most extreme members of that collective leadership led by the leader mr. ha mainny and president ahmadinejad fully in
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charge and the so-called true conservatives, some of the clerics, a number of the business men, et cetera, the more reasonable ones are now in opposition to this government. so this is the most extreme government in iran that's ever existed. people will argue they've always been extreme. i think it's clear this is the most extreme government. it's clear to me what is going to happen at this meeting next week. iran has already made clear they're going to go in there, they're going to allow inspections of this facility sooner or later, and they're going to say, this is another example of our peaceful nuclear energy decision enrichment facility that the white house paper makes very clear is not a military facility. it's enriching up to 5% which is the energy level. it happens to be, and this is quite interesting, at a republican revolutionary guard facility, so it's showing the potential military capabilities here, but the dilemma hasn't
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changed. they say they can do enrichment at this 5% level and the international community says no, and that's the problem. >> okay. jamie rubin, as always, thank you. chuck todd, as always. thank you. up next, much more on iran's newly revealed nuclear site and how president obama is handling the major test on the world stage. announcer: trying to be good to your heart? so is campbell's healthy request soup.
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i've always said that we do
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not rule out any options when it comes to u.s. security interests, but i will also reemphasize that my preferred course of action is to resolve this in a diplomatic fashion. it's up to the iranians to respond. >> we're back. it's time for "the politics fix" with david gregory, moderator of nbc's "meet the press" and ron brownstein, political director for atlantic media. we saw the president on a stage in pittsburgh, but it's really a world stage for him now. does this change the dynamic of what his presidency is about and who he is? is he a leader of the western world than just the united states? >> inevitably in the presidency there are events thrust upon the president that he has to respond to, shape, and he has to shape it not just for himself but as you say for the western world, the western allies. that's what the president is in the middle of doing right now. this is the moment of
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confrontation, challenge with regard to iran. this is the moment when he is able to say to the iranians, got you. we got you. we see what you're doing. you sit down and talk and negotiate away nuclear weapons or there's going to be a track you don't like. stop haranguing, negotiate ista negotiating and let's talk an the potential for real relationship because i, president obama, who somebody who wants to engage with you. all of that is coming up for a test right now. >> ron, the backstory here, it's not really the back jon story, it's a major one, involves the president and his relationship with and discussions with the russians and the chinese over this very issue. how, if at all, does this help him domestically in politics here? >> well, first of all, your point is correct. a lot of things that have happened up to this point in his presidency have put him in a stronger position to organize a kind of unified response from the world. the overall trajectory of his
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discussion of international organizations, the fact that he has made clear he was willing to have a negotiation with iran, a more direct kind of engagement and also, frankly, the decision on missile defense that removed some hurdles with the relationship with russia. those all put him in a stronger position to try to organize an international coalition here. the hard truth is this is one of those problems which a combined influence of a unified outside world may have limited capacity to change the trajectory of policy in iran. this is going to be a difficult and frustrating problem for baum ma in all likelihood as it was for president bush. i think it does elevate his stature in the world. that cannot help him at home. on the other hand, a persistent headache and one unlikely to lead to the equivalent of a ve day any time soon. >> ron brownstein. david gregory. chris matthews returns friday at
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5:00 and 7:00 eastern for more "hardball." time for "the ed show" with ed schultz. big day for the president. we'll break it down. good evening, americans. this is "the ed show" live from washington, d.c. hey, guess what? it's not august anymore. new poll is out today showing that americans are solidly behind the democrats when it comes to health care. here are the numbers. 65% of americans want a public option. that's up five points since august, according to a new cbs news/"the new york times" poll. 78% believe their health care system needs fundamental changes or a complete overhaul. i like it. republican leader eric cantor, who refuses to come on this program, come on, eric, we'll talk for an hour about what your plan is. the fact is you don't have a plan. he wrote in plitco he wants to
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set the reset button. i'll show you how to set the reset button. it's this. >> i have a very close relative. a woman in her early 40s who did have a wonderful, high-paying job, owns her own home and was a real contributing member of society. she lost her job just a couple of weeks ago she found at that she has tumors in her belly and that she needs an operation, her doctors told her that they are growing and she needs to get this operation quickly. she has no insurance. >> i guess i would ask what the -- what the situation is in terms of income eligibility and the existing programs that are out there. because if we look at the uninsured right now there is probably 23%, 24% of the uninsured that is already eligible for an existing government program. beyond that, i know that there are